How to choose the Foundation that’s right for you

There’s a lot to say about foundation, and I will be posting a whole series on this topic including some reviews on my favourites over the next few weeks but for now I’ll start with how to choose the right foundation specifically for you.  If you follow my advice, you’ll never again have to waste your money on an expensive foundation that’s completely unsuitable for you. Yay!

There are so many foundations out there with different formulas and finishes so it can be hard to choose the right one.  Buying foundation is not something you should do on impulse as you have to be sure it matches your skin perfectly.  A lot of women make the mistake of buying the “latest” foundation out which claims all sorts but doesn’t always deliver for everyone!  What looks great on your friend or workmate, might not be suitable for you as people have different skin types and so the foundation that suits their skin, might not suit yours.  And if you fork out for the same foundation, you’ll be making a very expensive mistake if it doesn’t suit your skin type or is the wrong colour.

Testing, Testing…

When you want to buy a new foundation you need to test it first to make sure that it’s suitable for your skin.  It’s also a good idea to try a few different brands to see which is best. First get yourself some small containers with a screw on lid to collect samples (you can get them in Boots or in any chemist or beauty supply store) and then go to a large department store where there’s a few different makeup counters.  Narrow it down to the brands you want to try and ask the sales assistants at the counter to recommend a foundation and colour that’s suitable to your skin.  Some counters have little samples already that they can give you once they’ve matched your colour.  Some other counters are particularly stingy when it comes to giving samples and usually the sales assistants will try to get you to sit down and let them apply the foundation on you.  It’s fine if they are colour testing a small area but generally I never let them do this – you don’t want them to do your whole face as it’s really best to take the sample away and try as part of your makeup routine, using your own brushes/concealer/powder  etc. as this will give you the best chance of knowing whether it’s suitable or not once you’ve seen how it sits and lasts on your skin for the day.  Also they’ll try to sell you other things that you most likely don’t need so just be firm and say that you would only buy the foundation if you can get a sample and try it out for yourself.  If they’re still having none of it, move on to the next counter!  You’ve got to be ruthless here OK?!

When choosing they type of foundation, the key things to consider are:

Your skin type – whether you’re oily, dry, sensitive or combination, first and foremost, you need to choose the right foundation formula for your type of skin and some are better than others so make sure to let the sales assistant know what type you are although they will usually ask you this.  You would always choose a moisturiser or other skincare products to suit your skin type and choosing foundation is no different to that.

Your Skin Colour – Obviously you’ve got to have a perfect match for your skin colour – this is the easiest to get wrong.  It can be difficult to choose this yourself so if you need to, ask for help when trying.  As a general guide:

  • A yellow toned foundation will suit a lot of skin tones and hide any redness but be careful it’s not too orange looking on you.
  • If you are very pale skinned, go for a foundation with a pink undertone to it.
  • If you want foundation for going out or for a special occasion, and you will be wearing fake tan, wear your tan when you are testing the colour and don’t try to guess on pale skin as it’s just impossible to do!
  • You should test on your jawline and blend the colour down towards your neck.  The foundation should disappear into your skin with no obvious dark edge and it shouldn’t look too light against your own skin colour either.
  • Check the colour in natural daylight to see how it looks as it will always look different outside the artificial light of the store.

Coverage – Foundation comes in different coverages, ranging from:

Full coverage – usually in a compact or cream formula.

Medium or buildable coverage – liquid foundation or mineral powder.

Light coverage/tint – tinted moisturiser or BB cream.

The coverage you require will depend on how much skin you want to show through your foundation and whether you have any imperfections you want to cover up.  Your age is also a factor in choosing coverage as heavy makeup can sometimes accentuate lines and wrinkles.

Finish

And just to confuse matters even more it also comes in different finishes!  For example a matte finish will give a powdery velvet finish with little or no shine, whereas a satin or luminous finish will give you a youthful sheen to the skin and look radiant, a la JLo!

Top Tip: If you find a foundation that you really love, consider buying two shades, a paler one for winter or times when you’re a bit pasty and a darker one for summer or wearing with a tan.  If you’re in between colours you can always mix the two, I do this all the time and I can always get a perfect colour match.

That’s all for now, I’d really love your feedback on which foundation you’re wearing and if you love it or not or even any questions you may have so please leave me a comment below or contact me on Facebook or Twitter anytime. 🙂

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7 thoughts on “How to choose the Foundation that’s right for you

  1. I’m wearing MAC Mineralize Liquid Foundation in NC15. I’ve found slightly pink undertones really good for my pale skin, yellow-toned foundations are always too dark for my skin even in the lightest shade. I will probably have to get something paler for winter which will be a nightmare.

  2. I wear NC15 also, the NC range is actually supposed to be a yellow toned foundation! It’s the NW that’s pink toned in MAC which is super confusing…. It’s not light enough for paler skins though. I must do a blog post on that, it might help you 🙂

  3. You are right about the NC and NW shades, but outside of MAC foundations, I tend to go for slightly pink-toned foundations anyway. The new YSL foundation- the pink undertoned lightest shade works really well on me.

  4. I’m looking for a new foundation and don’t know where to start so this has really helped. I done the impulse buy yesterday just picking up a liquid Revlon foundation and i found it was so oily and pasty on my skin I threw it out. I’ve used Mac before but found it too tick as i felt it made me look older showing up lines I didn’t notice before. I’d like something really light with maybe a pink undertone. I have quit good skin but it is combination skin. Would you recommend always using a primer before applying foundation..

    • Hi Kelly, I know there’s nothing worse than having to throw out foundation you just bought because it doesn’t suit you. If you’re looking for a good everyday foundation, I’d recommend Bourjois Healthy Mix foundation (I’ll be doing a review on it soon!), it’s really good considering it’s cheap and it it buildable so you can just put a light layer on or only apply where you need it most, or you can mix it with your moisturiser to make a tinted moisuriser from it if you like a light coverage. MAC doesn’t agree with everyone, their foundations are not that great to be honest. I’ve heard good things about the new Yve St Laurent one or the Chanel one is good too but both pricey. If you have combination skin (oily/normal or oily/slightly dry) , go for a forumulation for oily skin and yes you can use a primer, that would help the makeup stay longer. Revlon have a great one out at the moment or Laura Mercier are great if you really want to splash out on a good one. You should keep primer for special occasions or times when you really want your makeup to last because if you use it every day it wastes quickly. But don’t be afraid to test out products before you buy, even foundations in chemists, just bring your container and add a few pumps to it! A lot of the time, you wouldn’t buy clothes without trying them on and foundation is no different. Hope that helps you! 🙂

  5. Hi, Nice information. I want to know form you what type of foundation shall I use. As I am having mixed skin type means normal and my t-zone is oily. So I get little confused while selecting my makeup product which will suits me.

  6. Hi Aja, glad you like my post 🙂 So you have combination skin? I have the same skintype and I really like MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation also Makeup Forever Matte Velvet foundation. The real key with combination or oily skin is to use an oil free primer first which stops too much oil production and gives your foundation something to stick to without sliding off. As I said in my post, trying a few different foundations until you find the one that suits you is really the best thing to do. Hope that helps you 🙂

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